The New Mexico Off-Road Runner, created by bikepacking.com only a few years ago, is an incredible route, spanning the vast majority of the state. Typically ridden from North to South in the cooler months, we opted for South to North in our late season June trip due to rising early summer temperatures and prevailing winds, but the route is equally exquisite either way. Bouncing from small mountain range to small mountain range across the state, you find yourself crossing large frying pans of straight road, before climbing up into surprisingly lush canyons. Everyday is so wonderfully different and diverse.
The route is chalked full of history, old abandoned cabins and mines, ghost towns, old railroad grades, ranching, and Native American heritage. Time and time again I find New Mexico to be one of the most underrated and stunning areas of the United States, a place full of discovery and natural wonder.
With one of the lowest population densities in the United States, New Mexico is vast, and largely free of the crowds you find in Colorado and Utah. We were so far out there on this route, that we would sometimes go days without seeing more than a few people along the way. This fact alone added such a wonderful and calming element to the trip.
We opted to do our trip with vehicle support, which freed up our bikes to be relatively light and nimble. At our camp each night, we were able cook delicious meals and really recharge the batteries before the next big day in the saddle.
Overall, this was an incredible way to see New Mexico, and I would recommend part or all of this route to anyone looking to getting in a big adventure on the gravel bike.
Our first day was an incredibly hot day in the desert. We started with views of Mexico from Las Cruces as we headed north. This was probably the most technical, sandy, and challenging riding of the entire trip, and it definitely set the tone for the adventure at hand!
The highlight of our second day was most certainly rolling into Hatch from our overnight camp in the Organ Mountains and sampling the world famous Green Chili there. It really is top notch New Mexican cuisine for hungry riders!
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This really was a beautiful day without seeing a single person until dropping into the town of Truth or Consequences. Brilliantly named, this town is chalked full of character and mystery. We opted for a hotel on our third night to properly recharge the batteries.
On our fourth day we rode up into the Loco Mountains and stopped at the top of a pass to camp for the night. We were treated with an incredible sunset and nice mild overnight temperatures after a hot day in the blistering sun.
Probably the coolest day of the trip, from sun up to sun down. We started the day in the quaint town of Winston, filled with incredible architectural relics, before the long climb up Chloride Canyon and eventually to the fire lookout on Lookout Mountain. The day was capped off with an incredible 11 mile (18 km) swoop descent into camp where we were surrounded by giant cottonwoods.
We enjoyed a chill morning at camp reading books and cooking breakfast on the sixth day, before a long afternoon on pavement and gravel.
The day ended with the climb up Last Bear Canyon, which was equally as lush and unexpected as Chloride Canyon the day before.
Another relaxed morning was spent enjoying time at camp for our friend Paul's birthday.
We finished the climb to the summit and dropped the other side, with a primitive old forest service road in front of us. We cranked on in to Magdalena and got another hotel for the night.
This was definitely one of the hotter days of the trip. Everyone began to ride into good fitness and we were really putting the hammer down. We had a really cool stop in the ghost town of Santa Rita with the old church and saloon.
Gravel all day, and some of the best riding of the entire trip! We decided to veer off the main Off-Road Runner route a bit, and got a little lost in the maze of trails, but all ended up at camp somehow.
A big day out even though it was lower milage and just about everyone ran out of water!